Don’t settle for platitudes
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 14, 2013 06:00 am
It’s election time, and along with it comes a huge serving tray filled with platitudes du jour.
Iterations of, “St. Albert is the best place to live,” “Help keep St. Albert the best community in Canada,” “It’s about balance,” and “A place I can be proud of,” are just some of the platitudes many of the candidates proudly declare as they announce their run for city council.
These pronouncements are all very nice, and we suspect candidates running in Spruce Grove, Leduc and Sherwood Park are making the same claims about their beloved communities. However, we need people who are charged with governing our city to have the depth and breadth of knowledge that goes beyond beautiful trees and neighbourhood barbecues.
St. Albert is challenged with serious issues, and everyone running for council owes the citizens their viewpoints on these issues. For example, economic development has been a plank on nearly every candidate’s platform over the decades. And yet, here we are again, listening to candidates declare that economic development is important.
The incumbents all declared that economic development is a priority during the last election campaign. What has actually happened? Well, we have this parcel of land west of the city dubbed “the employment lands.” This name is laced with irony, much like the “City of Champions” sign at the City of Edmonton’s entrance.
The land is there, all right, and the city wants industrial development on that land, which, of course, would create “employment.” But there’s a bit of a glitch – the landowners aren’t prepared to sell. The current council needs to tell us exactly when the much-campaigned industrial development will take place. And the others who are running for council need to tell us how this impasse will get resolved. It’s a prodigious issue; without industrial development, the pressure on residential taxes will continue to mount.
There are other important issues on the horizon, such as the proposed community support centre, which would house several non-profit groups, and the Campbell Park Transit Station Park and Ride. The price tag on the community support centre is somewhere between $17 and $25 million, and the city will be responsible for a third of the $37-million park and ride cost. How will the city pay for this? What will be the implications on residential taxes?
There are many other issues that council candidates must answer to, including future utility rates, the downtown area revitalization plan, the proposed LRT plan, affordable housing, city planning, and the less-than-amicable relationship with Sturgeon County, to list a few. So, when a candidate for city council knocks on your door during the upcoming campaign season, don’t let them get away with motherhood and apple pie platitudes. St. Albert needs serious people with the ability to intelligently tackle the issues that will impact us all.